By Jessica Zimmer
Change is coming to San Leandro this summer with the August 2016 opening of OSIsoft’s new 135,000 square foot headquarters and an 800-space parking structure at the San Leandro Tech Campus (SLTC), across from the downtown BART station. Marco Cochrane’s 55-foot “Truth is Beauty” sculpture, which contains 2,500 LED lights, should be installed shortly after. The Cooler, a tavern, and Sons of Liberty, a brewery and restaurant, will open nearby in early spring. Goodfellas Barbershop and Sweethoney Desserts, a Hong Kong-style café, are on their way. Several residential projects, from 115 affordable housing and 85 senior units at Marea Alta to 800 market-rate units throughout the city, are expected to be completed by 2018.
Gaye Quinn, managing director of Westlake Urban, which owns and operates the SLTC in partnership with RSPK, LLC, said, “SLTC’s three minute walk to the San Leandro BART station fare gates, its innovative building design, beautiful outdoor plazas, and the fact that San Leandro has the fastest broadband speeds in the country will be extremely attractive to tech companies looking to expand in transit-rich locations.”
David Johnson, CEO of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, said, “We’re promoting San Leandro as an alternative to the very big downtowns [of Oakland and San Francisco].”
A main attraction is the Fiber Loop, an 18-mile stretch of broadband network around downtown that provides high-speed Internet. Approximately 368,000 square feet of hyper-connected Class A office space in the first phase of the SLTC will be available for lease this summer.
“San Leandro’s traditional role has been primarily as a manufacturing community, particularly west of 880,” said Johnson.
“That changed as we became more global, but manufacturing is burgeoning again. A Class A office space can be a complement to a company that has its administrative office at the Tech Campus and its manufacturing space in our industrial base, which has been protected through zoning,” said Johnson.
Deborah Acosta, chief innovation officer for the city, said, “[It’s] essential…to have workspaces close to BART. OSIsoft is bringing…quality tech jobs to San Leandro, which will allow us more bodies in the street, visiting retail [establishments].”
Jenny Linton, president of OSIsoft, said, “We’re hiring 200 people a year globally and want to increase our hires in San Leandro going forward. We’re hoping to attract other tech companies to San Leandro.”
Linton indicated that developers had shown interest in building 200 housing units for OSIsoft employees and contractors on the south end of SLTC.
Rebecca Saltzman, BART Board of Directors representative for District 3, said the downtown station can handle more riders.
“We’re really excited about the jobs in the East Bay. We have the capacity,” said Saltzman.
Tom Liao, deputy community development director for the city, said 115 mostly two-to-three bedroom units under construction at Marea Alta by developer BRIDGE Housing, an affordable housing complex across the street from SLTC, complement the commercial development.
“They are still in pursuit of financing for the second phase of Marea Alta, the 85 units of senior housing expected to begin construction in early 2017. There’s also a 5,000 square foot area for a day care center and a small retail space of 500 square feet planned,” said Liao.
Liao said the day care and retail spaces, which are now under construction, are part of the first phase of construction at Marea Alta.
Gordon Galvan, a member of the board of directors on the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, is developing a four-story apartment building with 60 market-rate units at 250 Thornton Street. He expects to break ground in September 2016.
Galvan said, “The city will be looking at General Plan amendments this summer to allow greater density on a number of downtown parcels. My project will be one of those being considered.”
Galvan said he has seen an enormous amount of activity in the city in the past few years.
“It’s a renaissance in downtown San Leandro. It’s the combination of available land, BART transit, and good city infrastructure,” said Galvan.
Jeff Kay, business development manager for the city and board member of the San Leandro Improvement Association, a group of downtown businesses, which work together to improve the appearance and security of the downtown area, said the timeline for the next two phases of the Tech Campus will be determined by leasing interest. Additional commercial development may come sooner.
“They [residents] would like more retail and shopping opportunities in town. More restaurants, more variety in restaurants. There’s also a lot of interest in adding a specialty grocery store downtown,” said Kay.
City manager Chris Zapata said residents have already shown a great deal of interest in the developing craft beer scene.
“[Downtown] is going to be a destination for enthusiasts. Having more people, more activity, and more eyes on the streets is also a good thing,” said Kay.